More People are Agreeing that Greed is “Not Good.” What they are Missing is that the Greedy have become Increasingly Clever.


Dave Kingsley

Greed is No Longer Acceptable, but That’s Not the Whole Story

In his latest book, Evil Geniuses, Kurt Andersen suggests that the “greed is good era,” kicked off by the likes of Ronald Reagan, Milton Friedman, Ayn Rand, and Ivan Boesky, has run its course.  Andersen covers old territory that many progressive writers have been discussing ad infinitum, ad nauseum for decades, e.g., “the Powell Memo,” the rise of Chicago School free market economic orthodoxy, so on and so forth.

Perhaps greed is no longer de rigueur, but that does not really matter to a small number of Americans who have amassed incomprehensible economic and political power.  That power is centered in the economic sector known as “FIRE:” finance, insurance, and real estate, or, metaphorically speaking, Wall Street.  Indeed, finance now dominates the U.S. economic system.

The goal of financiers and the super-rich is to protect the wealth they have accumulated during the past few hyper-capitalistic decades following the ascendance of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Given the economic injustice Reagan-Thatcher neo-liberalism has wrought and shifting attitudes toward a just and fair economy, the greedy have turned to deceptive and clever political networks within the Washington, D.C. beltway.  As I will demonstrate in a series of blog posts, these networks have been successful in coopting advocacy and professional organizations.

501(c)4 and 501(c)3 organizations such as the Better Medicare Alliance, The Third Way, the Committee for a Responsible Feder Budget, the Concord Coalition, and others are particularly aimed at either privatizing Medicare or reducing Social Security and Medicare benefits. The financing of these lobbying groups can be traced to the late billionaire, private equity mogul, Peter G. Petersen.  The thirty board members of the Third Way – a Democratic Party “think tank” – are practically all financiers.

Better Medicare Alliance

The Better Medicare Alliance was initiated and funded by the insurance industry. This “think tank,” and front group for the insurance industry has a mission of privatizing Medicare through Medicare Advantage. With congressional cooperation, the insurance industry has been successful in shifting Medicare beneficiaries away from traditional Medicare and into Medicare Advantage.  Approximately one-third of all beneficiaries are now in MA. If this movement achieves its goal of killing traditional Medicare, the insurance industry will have achieved immense power over what will soon be a trillion-dollar health care program for the elderly.

The image of the BMA has been concocted to convince the public that it is an advocate for elders and the betterment of their cherished federal health care program.  That is a lie.  But a large number of professional and advocacy group have signed on as allies (  These allies – too numerous to mention in this post – range from insurance businesses to Area Agencies on Aging, Leading Age, nurses associations, and professional medical organizations.

We Know What Greed Has Wrought, but We Don’t Know How Entrenched it has Become.

In the past few years, a spate of books about the throes of hyper-capitalism have appeared in the popular press. The best among these are The Finance Curse by Nicholas Shaxson and Transaction Man by Nicholas Lemann.  Andersen’s book adds nothing to these and many others.

What all of these excellent writers have failed to see is this:  greed has spread its tentacles throughout the political system in a shadowy network that is rewarding congresspersons with post-career jobs as executive directors of think tanks and on corporate boards.  These so-called “think tanks” are highly influential behind the scenes and are called on by legislators for testimony in congressional testimony and consultation on legislation.  They are the go-to organizations when the press is looking for “expert opinion” on issues and legislation.

The growing elderly population of the U.S. must not ignore these powerful interest groups working against their best interests.  Hence, many future blog posts on Tallgrass Economics, Finance, & Politics will be focused on predatory activities by FIRE interests within the Washington, D.C. Beltway.

One thought on “More People are Agreeing that Greed is “Not Good.” What they are Missing is that the Greedy have become Increasingly Clever.

  1. This is a very thought provoking article, and definitely leaves the reader looking forward to more installments. It is comforting that thought leaders and financial trend leaders are awaking to the damage unbridled greed can cause. Now, we need to observe what actions they put behind their implied conversion. Along with Dave’s future blogs, I will be watching what developments are on the horizon.

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